She missed their dinner but Hillary Rodham Clinton was warmly greeted Wednesday by other first ladies of the hemisphere when she called for more women in positions of power.

"Democracy and prosperity cannot be attained or sustained in countries that do not value women," Clinton told the gathering. "Women still do not hold enough positions of authority, responsibility and power." She added, however, "We stand at a moment of great opportunity for women in leadership positions."The women in the audience, many of them invited by other first ladies, were pleased that Clinton was among them.

"The perception is that she is very intelligent, very professional," said Maria Elena Ovalle, a member of the Central Bank of Chile.

Carla Guardia of Costa Rica, who works in her country's embassy in Santiago, added, "I think it's great that she is coming here and willing to participate with the other first ladies of the Americas."

As for President Clinton's problems growing out of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, Ovalle said of Hillary Clinton: "For her, it's a very difficult situation, but she is facing the facts with great dignity, I think, seeing not only her problem but the importance of being first lady of a very big country and a very powerful one."

Hillary Clinton apologized for missing the private dinner Tuesday night, noting she had been delayed by a relief mission to Puerto Rico, ravaged by Hurricane Georges.